Sunday, May 4, 2008

Let's Talk About Whores

Media scrutiny on Barack Obama's relationship with Jeremiah Wright has been intense and ongoing. Meanwhile, John W. McCain's acceptance of the endorsement of John Hagee has been nearly ignored by most of the media. What has Wright said that is worse than the things Hagee has claimed? Hagee refers to the Catholic Church as "the Great Whore," and repeats his assertion that Hurricane Katrina was God's revenge on New Orleans for its sinful lifestyle. How is that less crazy or less offensive than Wright's claim that the government is responsible for HIV? McCain refuses to repudiate this man. Are we talking about the same John McCain who once called fundamentalists "agents of intolerance?" Or is this someone who is willing to hop in bed with anyone to get what he wants--I believe the term for someone who would do such a thing is "whore."

Here's video, courtesy of Talking Points Memo.

Frank Rich gets it right (h/t Arkansas Blog).


Kevin Clark said...

In fairness, don't you think there's a difference between someone who is merely a supporter of McCain, versus someone who has been the pastor and mentor of Obama for 20 years? If McCain actually were a member of Hagee's church, then the Hagee thing would be similar.

Also, isn't there a difference between making theological statements and making political statements? Condemning the Catholic Church, as long as you don't also support legal restrictions against Catholics, is a purely theological statement. Saying that the US government invented AIDS to kill black people is a political statement. It seems to me that political statements are more fair game than religious statements.

By the way, last week I was out in Utah and Arizona and went to Bryce, Zion, and the Grand Canyon. I had never been there before. I thought the parks would be breathtaking, but I was surprised at just how spectacular they really are. It's funny how little a picture can tell you about the splendor of these places.

Archaeopteryx said...

I do think there's a difference between Wright and Hagee, and I think you've got it exactly backwards. If we pretend that Wright spent 20 years making his crazy claims every week from the pulpit, you might think Obama was wrong for staying. But, by all accounts, Wright is like almost every pastor you've ever known--he does good works in the community, and preaches in a regular way, and every once in a while, comes up with something nutty. Obama knows him well enough to put up with a little craziness. On the other hand, Hagee spouts his anti-Catholic, homophobic stuff every week on his teevee show. And McCain went out of his way to get Hagee's endorsement, and refuses to repudiate it the way Obama has finally repudiated Wright. McCain has sold his soul to be president.

I'm glad you finally got to southern Utah. There really is no place like it in the world. I got to spend a couple of weeks out there last summer, and I've been "home"sick for it ever since.

When I was there, I got to revisit Sunrise Point at Bryce Canyon, the place where Mrs. Archaeopteryx and I got engaged. I called her from the point and reminded her how romantic it was, and told her it made me want to get engaged all over again, and since I was in Utah, I might pick up another wife. Her response: "Choose wisely."

Kevin Clark said...

I don't think I know enough about Wright or Hagee to dispute how often they say hateful things. I think it's not so important that Wright supports Obama, but that for 20 years Obama supported Wright. McCain certainly doesn't support Hagee in any similar sense. And even though Obama has disowned Wright, Obama's actions were not a response to Wright's crazy political statements. Obama only disowned Wright when Wright said that Obama was just another lying politician. In other words, Obama was perfectly willing to put up with Wright saying the US government invented AIDS to kill black people, as long as Wright didn't personally attack Obama.

I don't think McCain courting Hagee's support is selling his soul. If a politician wants to be elected to anything, he will need support from people with whom he does not always agree. If there's a similarity here between Obama and McCain, it's that both are politicians and will do what they need to do win election.

Did you read that article by Hitchens on Slate about Michelle Obama? He talks about her thesis from college, and since he had a link, I looked it over. I don't hold anything in there against him or her. Obviously, ideas and opinions change over time. She does say an interesting thing in there, which is that she feels like she is an outsider in American society. I wonder whether she still feels that way.

I flew into Las Vegas last week, and then drove up to Utah from there. I don't know if you've driven that, but you go through the Virgin River Gorge, which is spectacular. I kept ooh-ing and ah-ing on the drive, and I thought the parks would have to be really great to be better than the drive. Of course, they are. After Bryce, I headed to Cedar City for the night, and my GPS told me to go over some mountain pass. When I got to the top, the elevation was over 10,000 feet, and the meadows and pine forest were covered with snow. Every now and then it would open up to an expansive vista below. Utah and Arizona are like one massive park, with new amazements hiding behind every turn.

Archaeopteryx said...

Neither Wright nor Hagee are what you would call "mainstream." But, as has been pointed out elsewhere, lots of members of lots of churches leave Sunday services shaking their head over one thing or another a pastor has said. From what I can see, Wright is bombastic and melodramatic, but of the things he has said when taken in context, only his HIV remarks are much different than the kinds of things Pat Robertson or James Dobson spew out. Hagee, on the other hand, has built a career from anti-Catholicism, anti-Semitism, and homophobia. His remarks about Catholics are vile and repulsive to me, and I'm not Catholic. McCain actively sought out Hagee's endorsement, and while repudiating Hagee's remarks, he hasn't repudiated his endorsement. I don't think Obama is blameless in the Wright debacle, but I think he's handled it about the best way he possibly could. Unlike McCain.

I didn't read Hitchens' article--I pretty much steer clear of his drunken prevarications unless I need to know what not to believe. I can't imagine what life is like for African-Americans, or for other groups subject to everyday racism and hate speech. I'm not surprised to hear Michelle Obama say she feels like an outsider in her own country.

Did you get down to the Grand Canyon while you were there? If you think Bryce and Zion are stunning, you should see the views from the North Rim. You're right--that whole area appears to be where God goes for his vacation.

Kevin Clark said...

Regardless of worse or better, I doubt whether Hagee or Wright will make much political difference in the general election. Of the two, I suppose that Wright has the greater possibility of making trouble since he is so closely associated with Obama. Limbaugh was saying today that the Clinton campaign is trying to find video of Obama in the audience while Wright is saying something nasty. I doubt even that could save Hillary now, but it would certainly be an issue in the general election, if such a video exists.

Regarding Michelle Obama, I don't blame her for feeling like an outsider (if she still does). You can't help how you feel. But if someone that successful doesn't feel welcome, then is there any hope for the broader society? I sometimes wonder whether policies such as affirmative action are really based upon feelings of alienation more than anything else. Shelby Steele in _The Content of Our Character_ says that for all the success he has had in life, every now and then he will be walking down the street and somebody will yell some racist remark at him. That kind of thing can't help but hurt and lead to a feeling of alienation, even if most people in society are welcoming.

I went to the Grand Canyon, but just to the South Rim. Unfortunately, I had very little time. I had to drive back to Las Vegas to catch a midnight flight, so I could only spend about 3 hours at the Canyon. This was kind of a last-minute trip, and it was not planned as well as it should have been. If I'd done things differently, and gone a little later in the year, the North Rim road would have been open and it would have been a fairly easy jog down their from Zion.

I wanted to get to Arches National Park and drive through Monument Valley. Everything is so darn far out west, though. From Bryce to Arches is about 300 miles. Plus, I had never been to Las Vegas, so I wanted to spend some time there. Where do you fly into when you go out there? Las Vegas? Salt Lake?

I really liked Cedar City. Maybe I'll retire there.

Archaeopteryx said...

Cedar City is a beautiful place. I wouldn't mind living in Utah, but I'd have to learn to keep my left-wing mouth shut. I have no desire to be another casualty of the Mormon enmity toward Arkies.

Kevin Clark said...

Interesting. I had never heard of that massacre. Did you notice it happened on September 11th?

By the way, did you see that John Hagee has issued a rather remarkably sweeping apology to Catholics?

Archaeopteryx said...

I guess Hagee's apology carries as much weight with me as Obama's repudiation of Wright seems to with the media. It's not as if he hasn't been spewing this stuff for years and selling tapes and books reviling the Catholic Church. And now--whoops, that's not what he meant!

Doesn't matter, though. McCain's getting a free pass on it.